Fellow Members of Darnestown Presbyterian,
For the past couple of months, Session and the Congregation have been engaged in discussing and praying about upcoming changes to our staffing and the need for a mortgage to supplement funding of the BEAR project. This has been a lot for everyone to process, and Session is grateful to the Congregation for its thoughtful engagement and consideration of our future. The anxiety level over these issues has been significant. In respect of this input, Session has decided not to ask the Congregation to vote on a mortgage at this time. Session wants time to work with the issues raised by the Congregation in order to ensure a broader level of support and Congregational unity with respect to these decisions about our future.
Session is going to go back to the drawing board on the five year financial plan and map out a revised combination of proposed changes to both the expense and income sides of our annual budget. The goal will be to reach a point in the very near future when our expenses can be covered by our annual giving, and the Georgetown Hill School income can help assist in financing the building project. Once Session has confidence that the revised plan is sound and achievable, the plan will be brought to the Congregation. Session expects that these modifications will address many of the concerns and issues brought forth by the Congregation, and will give the Congregation comfort regarding the potential assumption of debt in the future.
At the same time, Session remains committed to accomplishing the proposed building project outlined for our campus, including focusing on the expansion of the chancel and sanctuary, connection to the Andrew Small Building, and the new narthex. Session believes that these upgrades are critical to establishing a firm foundation for the church’s future generations both in terms of the buildings themselves, but more critically to ensure that our ministry in Darnestown not only survives, but thrives, for many years to come. Work will proceed over the coming six months to complete the construction documents and the filings required by the county. Completed construction documents are necessary in order to prepare a final loan package, and to establish firm project costs. We believe this will help with concerns raised that the building cost might continue to go up.
Over the past two years, Session started explaining to the Congregation the reality that our annual giving was not paying for our expenses, and that our giving is significantly lower than similarly-sized churches in our area. After Session began this conversation with the Congregation, giving increased by 6.9% in 2014 and 6.1% in 2015. In dialogue with the Congregation over the past months, it seems as though this message is resonating even further. The revised five year plan will most certainly rely on this positive trend continuing, and the Congregation can expect to hear more about this during the 2017 pledge campaign which will take place in late 2016. In addition, Session will consider seeking additional giving for the building fund (as has been suggested by several as a way to reduce the required loan amount).
In summary, Session heard you. Even though it will be very difficult to achieve 100% agreement in all areas, we want to do more work to address as many concerns raised as possible. Thank you once again for your input and engagement, and please feel free to discuss these matters with any member of Session, the BEAR team, or the Stewardship Committee. In addition, Session will be hosting an open forum on June 5 during the education hour to take questions and continue to discuss these decisions. May God continue to bless DPC and our continued ministry.
2016 DPC Session
Cheryl Amick, Kelvin Choi, Frank Cornelius, Ben Daughtry, Rick Dottermusch, Dave Durham, Roland Frenck, Meade Gelston, Sue Gordon, K. Henry, Jim Hoffman, Neil Jenkins, Kathy Kurkjian, Jess Neri, Jan Summers